WWSP's Shadow of th Marigold

Saturday, December 31, 2005

The Weirdo Club

I was thinking (again) about death (who doesn't?) and how weird and final it seems. But then I started thinking about all the other weird things that make up our existence, for instance: being born, having a body (this nose, these ears, this penis), being a kid, a teenager, an adult, the need for sleep, sex, companionship, money, a job, a home, a meal. It's all so weird, isn't it? And it's amazing how we learn to accept it all, kind of like "well, of course, that's the way the world is," and it's true, it is the way the world is, but it's still very strange, very weird. So, when you go with this line of thinking, death doesn't seem all that much weirder than anything else. Plus we see death and birth everyday. It's an everyday occurance, so what's so weird about it? Well it is weird, if you think about it, really think about it, but after awhile you just have to let it go, kind of ride with the weirdness, or put it out of your mind entirely. I think we humans become really good at putting things out of our minds, much of our time is spent lulling ourselves to sleep. We sleep through the weirdness and that's ok, until the weirdness kind of ups and slaps you in the kisser. So, it's probably better to ride the weirdness, incorporate it...just be weird. And really if you think about it, who's gonna really know?

Friday, December 30, 2005

Rambling Blues

Richard Wright: "The blues, contrary to popular conceptions are not always concerned with love, razors, dice and death."

Sunny Jimmy: "But if you think about it, that just about covers the landscape."

Thursday, December 29, 2005

The Voice

I had a "William Blake" moment last night. Remember dear William, visited by Angels and other various personages (Milton)? Well, anyway, I was sleeping like a little baby, my brain was filled with strange and interesting psychic phenomena, when out of the blue, this voice comes to me, backed with just the right amount of reverb for maximum effect, this voice declares: "I am the one."

Wow. This morning, feeling well-rested (a new man, really), I realize this is my moment of revelation (at the same time, I'm wondering, was it a prophecy, a sign of dis-ease, a trick of the night, or a just a random burst of static?). Of course, for me, everything is always laced with ambiguity, uncertainty, befuddlement. I realize I have no idea who or what said these words to me. So, someone, or some thing, declared it's primacy to me, (who am I to doubt?), but I'm in the dark about the ultimate source.

The usual suspects come to mind, but none of them seem to be a more likely candidate than any other. So, I'm left with the voice and the message. Now what's a humble pilgrim supposed to do with that?

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

G Minor

How do you put into words, what can't be put into words? Or how do you come to terms with the idea that what you do put into words somehow always misses the mark? I've been writing in my little notebook, and there is so much that I can't put down on paper. What's there in black and white is kind of the wisp, or residue of something larger, that I can't really formulate. So, in a way, it seems I'm leaving clues to another subject, a subject I can't really approach. How do you make a play out of that? Or a poem, novel or song? Lately my fingers on a fretboard, seeking out chords and notes, seems to be a better vehicle for what I'm trying to express. The guitar has become an easier voice for a language that is less explicit, less defined. G Minor. Now that damn chord kind of gets to the heart of the matter.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Dark Forces

I indulged in a little controlled, intentional poisoning, (too much red wine), at a cocktail party on Christmas Day. Why would I do such a thing? Beats me. I travelled to the deep fog of unreason, to the land of dark oblivion. I survived it. I was reminded why I now avoid such a trip. The good isn't as good, as the bad is bad. There are dark forces inside and outside. I think writing and singing about such forces is cleansing; living them, not so. Sometimes you can't even trust yourself.

Monday, December 26, 2005

A Ball

The Lovely Carla reminded me this morning that we are living on a ball that's spinning around in space. So this idea of grounding yourself, kind of takes on a different shade of meaning. If you think of our human situation, in "objective terms," it all appears kind of baffling and amazing.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Cheap Thrills

This year, more than ever, all the best Christmas stories, even the funny ones, are sad. Makes me wonder if it's the "observed," or the "observer." Yesterday, I went to Mass with my mother and sister, it seemed like the right thing to do, but when we got there, the church was overflowing, there was a children's chorus, and a nativity scene was being performed. The overly-enthusiastic Filipino priest brought in a little plastic baby in swaddling clothes and as he trailed the procession of wise men and barnyard animals, he held it high over his head for the adoring crowd to see. Talk about cheap theatrics. Where's the spinning pie tins when you need them?

I ended up bolting out of there. Not really in disgust, more of a bored impatience...I wondered if maybe all this love and attention being heaped upon some distant, mythological holy kid was instead spread around a little to each and every one of us, we could all make the world a little better place. Maybe a little less divine love, and a little more human love is in order? Anyway, I walked home alone, feeling a little less than groovy, kicking down the cobblestones, except of course there were no cobblestones to kick. Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Play it Out

You can't dictate to, or replicate a day, instead you let it play out. You can pick the key, settle on a tempo, but the melody comes, unbidden, seemingly out of nowhere. Or maybe you have the chord pattern, a stray riff, and your partner comes up with a sequence of words, and at first blush the chords and words don't really seem to fit, but then you play it out, and chords and words start to cohere, a melody emerges, and after awhile you can't imagine those particular words standing up without those particular chords behind them. So you take these disparate elements and put them together and the two of you sit in the kitchen and you repeat the chords and words over and over, until you realize that you actually have a song. You both smile as your voices snake in and out, and around each other, sometimes in harmony and sometimes not quite. A little slice of happiness kind of descends over the scene, you've created something new, together, something that didn't exist before and there's joy and wonder in that knowledge. It's a little thing, just a little song, a ditty, kind of funny and sad at the same time, and it all came out unbidden; no struggle. You can't dictate or replicate a day, a song, it's a gift that you receive, and when all is said and done you realize that's sometimes how it all works.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Mellow Tone In

I'm unplugging, and plugging into a new reality: VacationLand. No work, all play, or, working only at playing until the new year. I'm throwing myself into all my creative pursuits, donning the guise of the ultimate improviser. Last night, I dropped a tab of melotonin, to kind of shift down, it worked, I slept in, got a great rest, feel recharged. Tried a new brew this morning: it's better living through chemistry... I'm planning on plunging deep into the Rock Opera...everything's coming up music!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Frozen Tundra

"As I was jogging across the frozen tundra..." This line popped into my head yesterday as I ran the lakefront path. It was a beautiful, sunny morning; cold, really cold, but the sun was glinting off the snow, the sun was dancing on the lake, the sun was bouncing off the icebergs floating in the murky blue. Yesterday, it was a sparse crowd out on the hustings, one of those days that seperates the "hardcore" runners, from the not so hardcore. I guess I'm in the hardcore camp, although, I must admit, I had taken a couple of days off, after I had gotten a bone-deep chill over the weekend. So, I was out there, running along, glad to be able to still do it, glad to have a body, glad to be in my body, glad the old bag of bones still knew how to navigate across snow and ice.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Rhapsody of Snores

I've had music on my mind. I've been creating my own, listening to other's, and I'm reading a book about the Beatles, "A Day in the Life." So, I was sleeping soundly, (maybe too soundly), it's probably something like 2:00 a.m. and suddenly, the Lovely Carla shakes me awake: "Jimmy, you're snoring." I immediately reply, (no thinking involved), "I'm not snoring...I'm musical."

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Something's Missing

Joseph Heller wrote at least two great novels; the other one was "Something Happened." I'm thinking of writing my own variation entitled, "Something's Missing." I don't know what, and I don't know how or why, I don't know what; I just suspect there's something important that is "not there." I mean something really important. I mean, something really, really, really important. I don't know what, I don't even suspect I know what. It's missing, and I know I'm missing it, but I don't know what it is... The only clue I have, I wake up, I start going through the motions of a day, I do all the things I do, that I must do, and this sentence pops into my head: "This can't... be it."

Monday, December 19, 2005

"Nothing you can sing that can't be sung..." - Lennon & McCartney

Some days, do you wake up and wonder, "will I be handed my head?" or, "will I avoid getting my ass kicked?" Some days, when you go for a little jog on the lakefront (if you do), do you tell yourself, "just don't hurt yourself."

Alternatively, do you ever wonder if you could do something really great? Write a great novel or play? Compose a great song or album? Discover a cure for some horrible disease? Save the planet from global warming? Find a solution to hunger, poverty, the pain and suffering of the world? Develop a program to increase universal LOVE?

Do you ever have delusions of grandeur?

Where do you sit in the dichotomy between small and great, meek and brash, humble and grand; from surviving to thriving...?

Some days, I want it all...I want to make it to lunch without pain or heartache...and I want to shake up the whole wide world before dinner...now that would be a good day.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

"Listen to the Color in Your Mind" - J. Lennon

Color me exhausted...for some reason, I've reached a state of total "depletion." All I could do yesterday, was sit and play my guitar. I basically recorded layers of guitars, working on my rock opera. It's all very humbling. A step by step process. When it comes down to it, the only thing I really enjoy, is creating stuff. I fill my life up with words, music, images. So, the process of life seems to empty me, and then I reach out and try to fill up. But then, what you create, you let go too. So life seems like an never-ending "letting go." What can I un-grasp today?

Saturday, December 17, 2005

"I Can See Clearly Now..." - J. Cliff

Wow, it looks like a tendency to paranoia, pessimism, and schizophrenia (disassociation from reality) has it's payoff. Assume the absolute worst: your government is an out of control totalitarian empire, run by corrupt and evil people making really horrible decisions in secret. There's illegal spying, kidnapping, torture, murder, illegal wars, lots of pain and suffering and dead people. Every sick and evil idea that you can conjure in your fertile imagination, turns out to be a goverment run program that has been instituted behind closed doors. The sad reality, since you are paranoid, pessimistic and schizo, is that none of this surprises you. Any horrible thing you think turns out to be reality. You become so paranoid, pessimistic and schizo that everything is clear as a bell. You see so clearly, the sun blinds you. You end up getting sunglasses and a seeing eye dog. You change your name to Oedipus. Your motto: truth is beauty.

Friday, December 16, 2005

So Much, So Little

Ah well, how old world this morning, quoting old, dead, D. H. Lawerence - "...learn, learn, learn the one and only lesson worth learning at last. Learn to walk in the sweetness of the possession of your own soul."

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Liberty on the Beach

Every once in awhile, I'm reminded of the big status game (it's amazing how subtle and sophisticated this game can get), human beings like to play. Big Monkey Man (or Woman) puffing themselves up, lording it over all the subordinate little Monkeys. This especially becomes apparent in my little business circle. It is a fucking annoying little game. Sometimes, with a little psychic distance, it can be entertaining, but sometimes in the middle of the muddle it's painful. Some days, I just know Charles Darwin is looking over my shoulder, taking detailed notes...and Roddy McDowell, looking like he badly needs a shave, is whispering in my ear..."hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil..."

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

"I'm no Prophet. My job is making windows where there were once walls.' - M. Foucalt

"Culture is something done to us. Art is something we do to culture." - Carl Andre.

Last night I finished "Trickster Makes the World," by Lewis Hyde. It is masterful. It explores the Trickster figure in myth, in life, art, culture. Tricksters are "boundary crossers," they are tricky, unreliable, curious, maddening, dirty, witty, intelligent. They explore the areas that are forbidden, they try to poke holes in the walls of the "sacred," they try to rewrite the boundaries, they challenge why things are the way they are...after their mischief, things usually aren't they way they used to be. They also remind us that "the way things are," the boundaries between sacred and profane, (in culture, in politics) are sometimes useful, but once they are proven no longer useful, they can be "moved!"

In myth we're talking about Hermes, Coyote, Raven, the Signifying Monkey, the Golden Monkey, etc. In our culture it's usually the artists who play this special role (examples from Hyde): Pablo Picasso, Marcel Duchamp, John Cage, Allen Ginsberg. Examples from Sunny Jimmy: Dylan, Richard Pryor, Lenny Bruce, John & Yoko. Hyde's one political example: Frederick Douglass, a slave who could read and write, who was more articulate than "his master." Suddenly, the false boundaries between slave and master looked ridiculous, inhuman.

"America, I will put my queer shoulder to the wheel." - Ginsberg
"I force myself to contradict myself, so as to avoid conforming to my own taste." Duchamp
"The world is holy! The tongue and cock and hand and asshole holy!" - Ginsberg

Here's Hyde himself: "We are transients in the world, we read books, yes, but we also read the swaying pine boughs, the turtle swimming below the ice, the dream fragment brought back by the smell of eucalyptus leaves, the unused bits of code on strands of DNA, the wobble of the flying frisbee - and each has its radiance to offer, a sense that there are surely secrets yet to be revealed if only the gates would freely open...but, they will never swing freely; a distant light is all there is, and that only briefly seen."

Trickster sometimes helps us kick open that gate. We find that there aren't just a few eternal truths but instead a plenitude of truths. This is why we must have our wits about us, be aware, awake...if we look at the world with new eyes, will we see something... new.!?! "If mind is shapely, art will be shapely." - Ginsberg

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

"Darkness at the Break of Noon" - B. Dylan

It's not officially winter yet, but the cold freeze has set in. Daylight is brief. Cold dominates. I had another long sleep. Many strange and garbled dreams, no good narrative line, but my dream state seems more real than my waking state. How strange. The pictures in my head, seem sharper, more tangible, than the cold reality around me. Maybe we evolved a consciousness to kill the boredom of a mundane world? I examine the afterglow of the dreams, looking for a clue, some kind of sign, some insight... nothing to grab onto, a feeling of something lost...looking to be found...

Monday, December 12, 2005

"I Hear My Train A' Comin" - J. Hendrix

I slept long and hard yesterday, (catching up from my r&r diversion) and I had a long (although, it seems, the dream world doesn't respect space and time), or what seemed like, a long and rambling dream. I guess there's no interpretation necessary: I was on a train, the train was traveling in a large circle, the train was filled with happy people, men, women, children, all excited about getting to the final destination, which sounded like some kind of Amusement Park. I was on the wrong train, I was the only one on the train looking for a way to get off. I was on a train and I was lost. I wondered how I got on the train, I was wondering how I was going to get off. I was wondering... The train stopped to pick up some more smiling, happy people; this was my chance, I jumped to the door, I jumped off the train, I found myself in some vast shopping mall, in front of a row of vending machines...I didn't know where I was going, I didn't know what I was going to do...the train left the station, the smiling, happy people went on their way. I stood alone in front of the vending machines...wondering what was gonna happen next...

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Rock Muse

I'm starting to live the rock and roll life style: staying up late, playing guitar into the wee hours, coming home to a dark apartment, finding it hard to come down from the rush of performing, high from watching nubile young women dancing to the r&r beat that my mates and I laid down. Last night, the Telepaths (minus two) ripped up the song book. We tore through our little set of covers and two originals like three demons from hell. We had an appreciative and well-lubed audience of artists hanging out at the Flatiron Building. Our rough and ready performance was the essense of the r&r aesthetic. It was crude and rude and oh so fun. I woke up this morning, (I slept on the couch, didn't want to disturb the Lovely Carla) after four hours of sleep with a new lyric for a new song running through my head. This is called inspiration. My muse now wears a leather jacket and high-heeled sneakers. She's a r&r banshee and she wants me to rock out loud and proud.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

"The Humor of Escape" - M. Duchamp

"Nothing new under the sun can happen without absolute chance, it alone is at the source of every innovation, of all creation in the biosphere." - J. Monod

"Art is an outlet toward regions which are not ruled by time and space." M. Duchamp

Friday, December 09, 2005

"Power: A Boot Heel in the Face" - G. Orwell

Is Little Bush "Stalinesque?" Go read Martin Amis' "Koba the Dread" about power and torture, and then see if you hear echoes in the lies streaming from the mouths of Bush, Rice, Rumsfield, and Cheney.

As Mark Kleiman so eloquently puts it: If we stopped torturing people, directly or by proxy, then we couldn't force them to reveal what they didn't know and what in fact wasn't true. And without untruths, the War on Terror would grind to a halt.

Also if you get a chance hunt down Harold Pinter's Nobel Prize acceptance speech, it's breathtaking, heartbreaking and oh so true. Here's a speech Pinter has volunteered to write for our indecent, fearless, leader: ‘God is good. God is great. God is good. My God is good. Bin Laden’s God is bad. His is a bad God. Saddam’s God was bad, except he didn’t have one. He was a barbarian. We are not barbarians. We don’t chop people’s heads off. We believe in freedom. So does God. I am not a barbarian. I am the democratically elected leader of a freedom-loving democracy. We are a compassionate society. We give compassionate electrocution and compassionate lethal injection. We are a great nation. I am not a dictator. He is. I am not a barbarian. He is. And he is. They all are. I possess moral authority. You see this fist? This is my moral authority. And don’t you forget it.’

Thursday, December 08, 2005

"So You Want to be a Rock and Roll Star" - The Byrds

So I was up late, playing r&r at a little bar with the Telepaths. We played two inspired sets. At one point, I think I channeled Neil Young's chauffer. Anyway, I'm a little fuzzy this morning, so I grabbed this quote which I came across at another site. I always wanted to be a star...

"The cosmos is within us. We are made of star stuff. We are a way for the cosmos to know itself. We've begun at last to wonder about our origins, star stuff comtemplating the stars, organized collections of ten billion billion billion atoms contemplating the evolution of matter, tracing that long path by which it arrived at consciousness...Our obligation to survive and flourish is owed not just to ourselves but also to that cosmos, ancient and vast, from which we spring." - Carl Sagan

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Pissed-Off-Ness is the Mother of Invention!

I've found, surprisingly, that one of the key ingredients to "creativity" is pissed-off-ness. I'm always trying to find space, peace, enlightenment, flow, and I think much of my best work comes from those places, but what's amazing is usually that's not enough, you need a little extra spice, some "fucked-up-ness" to enter into the picture. I've found this is usually a spur to some new breakthrough, an extra willingness to take a risk. It's a "chip on your shoulder" type of energy. Lennon's comment: "We (the Beatles) were the biggest bastards, we knew we were the best godamned band in the world." Or what's that Lombardi line? "When the going gets tough, the tough get going." Or that classic cliche: necessity is the mother of invention (see Zappa sitting on the crappa)! Hell, it's all true!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Behind the Music

I've always wanted to be in an R&R band. Ok, I think I wanted to be a Cowboy before that little dream materialized, but early on (mid sixties) I got the idea that Cowboys were no longer roaming the range in substantial numbers, and instead, there was this invasion of Beatles, Monkees, and Paul Revere and the Raiders, and I quickly reversed course and jumped on that dream horse. I remember lining up my brothers and sisters, assigning each an imaginary instrument, and kicking out the jams on "Can't Buy Me Love," "Steppin Stone," and "I'm a Believer." I ended up taking guitar lessons, but I never ventured out of my bedroom, plinking away to the lonely beat inside my head.

Later (late seventies) I hooked up with my cousin Michael and we used to jam away in his kitchen. These were long, intense acoustic jams fueled by beer and cannabis. We played songs like "Dead Flowers," and "You Can't Always Get What You Want." This was also the time I had a guitarist's dream job, I worked at a Hohner warehouse, where my job was to take guitars out of boxes (shipped in from Asia) tune them up, play them, looking for imperfections (loose or bad frets, buzzes and clicks). We had a friend named John who blew a mean blues harmonica, and for a time we became an acoustic trio, "Dead Midget." We never really ventured out. All of our best stuff was played in the kitchen, reverberating out over Michael's kitchen linoleum to our captive audience: a refrigerator and stove.

Later, instead of music, I ventured out into the world of theater. The Lovely Carla and I took acting classes, and I got it in my head that I could write plays. 10 years later, it seems it's true. One of our plays was called "Another Korea Revisited" (catchy title hunh?) and I decided to buy an electric guitar and compose a score. I was unable to get a group of musicians willing to commit to a six week run, (musicians are a notoriously flighty bunch) so, I did all the music myself. This was the beginning of my second great love affair with the guitar.

Which leads me to present day. The Telepaths. Finally, I am in a r&r band. We are good in our own way: rough, raucous. I'm enjoying playing with these guys immensely. We've actually got two shows this week. It's fun and inspiring. The experience has convinced me that the next theater piece should be a rock opera. Three chords and a solid backbeat...look out world!

Monday, December 05, 2005

"Keep on Rocking in the Free World" - N. Young

I'm thinking Georgie O. would be having a field day...our Secretary of State is in Europe telling our Allies that we "don't do torture" in secret prisons, which by the way, she's not admitting really exist, but please don't tie our hands in our fight with the enemy, and don't ask us to live with International definitions of torture. So please don't stop us from doing what we aren't admitting we are doing in secret places that we don't acknowledge actually exist. Is this confirmation that the Terrorists have already won?

Sunday, December 04, 2005

The Lost Ones

My father, speaking of his brother (two extraordinary men, now both gone) used to say that when he was a kid, little Bobby was "the artful dodger," he couldn't be pinned down, he was always a step ahead, or behind, the yoke. This mode probably officially ended when little Bobby (at 17 years old) artfully dodged himself right into the Marines. My father later joined the Army and served in the Korean War. Both these guys married, raised a passel of children, and worked hard for the bulk of their lives. Neither of them dodged their responsibilities as fathers, they assumed the yoke, they carried on with grit and grace. True American originals.

I was thinking of these two yesterday, as I skated on the periphery of the day. I have naturally assumed the mantle and played the role of Artful Dodger myself. This has been my primary mode since early childhood. I seem to have never "grown" out of it. No Marines for Sunny Jimmy. I guess I've basically lived a "long adolescence." I've been able to carry on relatively unscathed, no broken bones, a few scars (all self-inflicted). I've prided myself on being able to "skate," to talk myself out of any jam, to live brightly and lightly.

Of course, there are some things you can't dodge (talking doesn't help): taxes, aging, death. The last one is the hardest. We all have our "lost ones," people who come into our lives, influence us, inspire us, change us, and then... they disappear into the Last Great Dodge. We are reminded that we too will find the exit door sometime, probably, when we least expect it. So, we all have our "lost ones," and we are all "lost ones" in the making. When we honor those who are dead and gone, we also honor ourselves and those coming down the line. What a long, strange trip indeed.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

What Year is It?

Do you ever get the sneaking suspicion that you've morphed into Winston Smith? Do you ever feel like a "ghost in the machine?" Do you ever wonder at how seamlessly corporate and military power have merged into a mutual symbiosis? Do you ever think that the "public square" is just a super-saturated, consumer paradise, where the bars of the cell have been magically air-brushed out? Do you begin to doubt the veracity of what you are hearing, seeing and reading? Do you ever question a culture that slavishly worships the power and glory of the almighty buck? Do you think faith in "the market" is a license to rape, pillage and murder our fragile ecosystem? Do you wonder how a radical, peacenik, rabbi, murdered 2000 years ago could have been mythologized into a kind of biblical Donald Trump? Do you wake up in the middle of the night muttering to yourself, "greed is good?" Do you secretly wish you too had a Big Brother you could look up to?

Friday, December 02, 2005

Take a Beat, Add One Major Chord, and Shake Vigorously!

Last night, we had a productive Telepath rehearsal preparing for our show next week. It's amazing how good major chords strummed over a bass and drum combo can sound. It's been a lesson for me. What is creativity? Sometimes it's taking very common elements and putting them together. As simple as that! We are working with instruments that have been played by millions, using chords and notes that have been strummed over and over and over. We can't really step too far out of the confines of beat, rythmn, melody, harmony. Once you say you are gonna play R&R, you've accepted a whole set of boundaries. But within the confines of this type of music there's room for little creative sparks. It can be found in everything, the way a snare or high-hat rings out, the thump and resonance of a bass string, a certain vocal inflection. I guess it's obvious, but it's the human beings behind the mikes and instruments that add something unexplainable, something unlike anything else you've ever heard. Whether the band is good or bad, the band should be good or bad in their own unique way. Or at least that's where I think greatness lies. The trick is to find the quirkiness, the sloppiness, or the elements that aren't quite right, and push those to the forefront (my two favorite examples? Bob Dylan and Neil Young - both of these guys at one time or another were told they couldn't sing, couldn't play guitar, harmonica, etc.). This all fits in with my approach, looking for "happy accidents," putting the elements together, letting individuals be individual and seeing what happens. Not sure the results will work for everybody, but to my way of thinking, if they worked for everyone they wouldn't be "individual" enough.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

A Cut and Paste World

I've discovered a new toy, (I need a new toy like I need a new hole in the head!). Last Friday our IMAC blew up (logic board), so instead of paying for repair, we traded up to a new improved one. Faster, bigger screen, more stuff. My new discovery?! GarageBand! It is very cool. Amazing. Suddenly anyone can be George Martin (remember him?). Its an easy to use software tool that allows you to combine loops in new ways to create...well...just about anything. My first stab at it, I came up with a moody jazz piece in C Major, 4/4 time, multi-layered keyboards, spooky strings. It was basically point and click. Incredibly empowering. I also bought a special cable that will allow me to hook in my guitar (which I can turn into something else: a grand piano, steel drums, etc). So, I'll be able to create totally original tracks, mix them, manipulate them. This is definitely cool shit. It kind of opens a whole new vista of creation and makes one reflect on the creative process. Once you get over the technical hurdle (this is my keyboard, this is my mouse), it's up to one's aesthetics, one's sensibility. This sounds good, this sounds bad, this sounds complex, hey, this sounds good and complex! It's a "cut and paste" world. Thank you William Burroughs. Everyone can be a creator! Thank you Steven Jobs. Thank you Andy Warhol. I'm still waiting for my 15 minutes!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Doing Good is Good

"Morality - a system of conduct based on right and wrong." That's from a dictionary. Yesterday I waded into a discussion of Post Modernism and morality, and I kind of think I muddied the waters a little, even in my own head. Going back to basics I'm thinking this "system of conduct" evolved, (I'm going with the Scientific/Evolutionary view) in countless ways over our history. If you take the evolutionary tack, having a system of conduct based on right and wrong, must have given some people, societies, civilizations advantages over others. At the same time, this "morality" was used as a tool against others, as a tool of justification for both good acts and bad acts carried out under the cover of goodness. Ever since the Enlightenment, ever since Darwin and the Scientific paradigm, I do think we are stuck in a kind of Post Modern Morass, where its clear no one has a monopoly on truth. We can try to come to some kind of consensus, but when people start wielding "absolutes" look out! If there's no "god" handing down absolutes, then we are left to our own devices; each of us seeing partially, incompletely, maybe ineptly. We can venture some simple "rules to live by," - don't kill, lie, cheat, covet your neighbor's wife, etc. they've been handed down through the years probably because they make life a little simpler, neater, etc., but even these aren't hard and fast absolutes. If we are "the authorities" there are no absolutes. Doing good is good is relative too! It ain't in the human makeup. We can make rules up as we go along, (I'm a big fan of the golden rule), but we are "making them up." I'm thinking, like the Scientist, we ultimately try to go with "what works" (what does the evidence seem to support?), what tends to increase pleasure, quality of life, "goodness" for society as a whole? We might have some big ideals, but then we need to test them in the world. I'm thinking what's considered "good" is what has given us some kind of evolutionary advantage. Maybe part of that advantage has been our "flexibility" in maneuvering around the hard and fast rules. What was strictly forbidden in the past, what could get you stoned or flogged, what could get you a first class ticket to hell, is now just "a day in the life!"

Monday, November 28, 2005

"The Opposite of War is Creation" - J. Larson

Yes, well, the Lovely Carla and I saw the movie (we never saw the play), and the theme resounded in our ears, loud and clear. We occupy a space, and then we move on, we pay "the Rent," we are all "renters," we own nothing, everything is temporary. How do you measure a year? In Seasons of Love?

We went to see Jonathan Larson's rock-based musical, "Rent," last night (I especially wanted to see it - doing research on my own Rock Opera don't you know?!), and the story of a group of marginal artists in a rough neighborhood in NYC really resonated with us. It's such a great, death-haunted piece with the back story that Larson died right before previews of the original theatrical run, and with AIDS front and center in the lives of the main characters. So you have young beautiful people (who can sing and dance too) singing life-affirming songs about mutual masturbation, and T-cells, and cross-dressing, and all the wonders of modern urban civilisation in America circa 1990.

I think it was life-affirming. As long as you can get your head around the "truth," that anyone of us can disappear at any moment. That all we have is now, that all we have is love, that none of it lasts beyond this moment. And how do you live with that knowledge, (experience the yawning canyon of sadness), I mean really know it, feel it in every fibre of your being? "Viva la boheme!"

Sunday, November 27, 2005

"A Hunk of Burning Love" - Elvis

I'm seeing everything through "trickster" glasses lately, (see previous posts), cultural figures who kind of straddle the margins of society and there's evidence of "trickster tracks" everywhere I look. Last night, the Lovely Carla and I ventured out to our local multi-plex to submerge ourselves in "Walk the Line," a movie about Johnny Cash and June Carter. We both thoroughly enjoyed the flick, and I was especially taken with the portrayal of the desperate cast of characters in C&W that surrounded the Man in Black, and the Woman who loved/saved him. The biggest stars were also the strangest characters, emotional gargoyles, flawed human beings, willing to "live large," willing to display their wounds, their deep flaws in order to entertain other people, to seek some kind of recognition, some kind of acceptance of their "freakiness." I'm thinking especially people like Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, and Johnny Cash himself. Maybe these people become "stars," because they are willing to get up on a stage, to expose themselves, to act out in front of others, and these "others" sitting in the audience, see their own strange freakiness in a new light. So, going with this line of thinking, it's all one big "Freakshow," with the "stars," being the ones willing to show their wounds, and by some strange human alchemy, use them as elements in their "talent," their "genius." Of course in many cases, it doesn't make their lives any less freaky (see Peter Guralnick's two volume bio on Elvis), or tragic; celebrity, fame, money, sex and drugs don't heal the wounds, in fact, usually they maginifiy them, but this too adds to "the legend." In some sense these "tricksters" are performing a ritual sacrifice for the audience. They display the emotion, they express the feeling, they conjure the picture that the audience secretly wishes they could express too. "I'm a freak, no one understands me, no one loves me!" Maybe that explains all that crazy panty tossing! Caution: this post was composed under the influence of TRICKSTER!

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Goofing Off

It's amazing what a couple of days off from the daily work grind can do for you. My work tasks are primarily in the mental realm: strategizing, fretting, worrying about details that tend to spin out of my control, talking endlessly on the phone, tapping away at my keyboard. Work is an imposition of "The Wheel" a wheel that demands: needing, wanting, grasping. The main burden, I guess, is that my "space" is not my own. I trade my time and my mental capacity, for cash, which I can redeem for valuable prizes later, although, as one goes along on this journey, one begins to realize that time and personal freedom are the most valuable prizes of all.

But of course, we all have to eat, we are "mere bellies," with voracious appetites, which is just another Wheel that we must ride to keep on going. A "day off" still has demands, there are responsibilities, chores, appetites, etc. but there's a different quality to everything. There's also that "just goofing off" kind of thing (think Huck Finn, think Wiley Coyote), bouncing around, not doing much of anything. Catching a movie, noodling on a guitar, sitting back and listening to music. Not really a waste of time, no, a kind of aligning with time. The tick of the clock (eventhough you don't need to consult one), the thump of a heart, strangely synchronized.

Friday, November 25, 2005

The Original Trick

I'm reading a book about "tricksters," ("Trickster Makes the World" - Lewis Hyde) a character type that appears in mythology all over the world, that traces the self-invention of consciousness to the act of "lying." Basically (I'm simplifying a very subtle multi-layered discussion into a very crude, simple one) when we lie, we are creating other worlds, other realities. Characters like Hermes, and Mercury, and Coyote and the Signifying Monkey figure in this tale. So do artists, Picasso's famous line: art is the lie that tells the truth.

Our dreams, memories, art, arguments, ideals in some way are all lies. They are simulations of the world, not quite the world; our language, the words we use day to day, describe and obscure at the same time. Consciousness, being aware of the world, imagining other worlds, this is a unique human ability. We step back from the world into a languauge of symbol, abstraction, this is our "hall of mirrors," the mirrors reflect images of the world, and those images become our world. Trickster, tricks himself into forgetting the genesis of that original trick.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

A Beam of Light

"The most wonderful thing about life seems to be that we hardly tap our potential for self-destruction, we may desire it, it may be what we dream of, but we are dissuaded by a beam of light, a change in the wind." - John Cheever

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

"Everything You Know is Wrong" - Firesign Theater

Let's get lost. It isn't hard to do, getting lost, there's so many contradictory impulses, competing realities, so many simulations (I read an interview with Jean Baudrillard first thing this morning - caution - when in doubt a French Intellectual is not your most reliable tour guide). It's hard to hang onto a clear understanding of the world. There I said it. It's one of my goals, to get to clarity (I've dubbed this space the "school of clarity" - it's me who is going to school - trying to absorb the lessons!), it's why I meditate, why I write, it may also be why I'm a runner, why I play guitar, why I eat and sleep, why I read voraciously; I'm looking for some "understanding" of myself and this raging ball of confusion, I'm searching for some glimpse of "enlightenment." There have been plenty of times where think I've been chasing shadows on the walls of my little cave. I look at my library of books, little coffins of information, and I ask, "how much have I forgotten?"

So, I'm lost, I admit it. Ever since our aborted trip to Edinburgh, Scotland, ever since my father died, a little hole has blown open in my understanding of the world. What I thought I knew, I know longer know. I don't know what I know. It isn't totally disagreeable, this lost-ness. I'm floating in that great "cloud of unknowing," just floating, grabbing onto nothing. From this vantage point, words like enlightenment, knowledge, clarity, are promissary notes from some phantom lender who no longer honors fancy-looking pieces of paper. I have no other currency at hand.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

I Need a Beret and a Pack of Gitanes!

Maybe this isn't surprising, the Lovely Carla wasn't fazed, I took an internet quiz (Wikopedia) this morning, and found that I'm basically an Existentialist, with a healthy dollop of Hedonism thrown in for good measure (plus a smidgen of Kantian, Nihilist and Divine God). I'm in the camp where the meaning of life is something we supply. Actual circumstances might be grim, MEANING is what we bring to the party. At the same time, we should/can/must ENJOY IT while we can! Oui, Oui.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Old Voices

This Monday morn, I'm cruising the web and come across this from William James (supreme pragmatist) - "nothing, is inherently true or false, either things work, or they don't." Also, this from Jean Paul Satre: "So this is hell. I'd never have believed it. You remember all we were told about the torture-chambers, the fire and brimstone, the 'burning marl.' Old wive's tales! There's no need for red-hot pokers. Hell is other people!"

And this from the Notebooks of Lewis and Clark (glimpsing the long gone world of Crazy Horse, Black Elk, Sitting Bull): "I ascended to the top of the cut bluff this morning, from whence I had a most delightful view of the country, the whole of which except the valley formed by the Missouri is void of timber or underbrush, exposing to the first glance of the spectator immense herds of buffalo, elk, deer, and antelopes feeding in one common and boundless pasture."

Sunday, November 20, 2005

The Black Brew

So, last night, I found myself at an Irish pub on Chicago's northside, propped up against a finely polished bar, draining a number of glasses of hearty Guiness Stout. It was all for a good cause, a benefit, for a little girl, who suffers from a horribly incomprehensible disease. There was so much life and vitality all around me: a bevy of beautiful women, broad shouldered men, the jukebox was playing U2's "Beautiful Day." The black brew made me light-headed. The conversation was inconsequential. I had this strange, "there and not there" feeling. Inside the pub: laughter, music, life, the swirling carnival of existence. Outside: a cold, black, darkness, silent, waiting...

Saturday, November 19, 2005

"Hump! What Hump?!" - Igor

Sometimes a long sleep isn't restful, the sunlight doesn't bring light, love doesn't conquer all, peace doesn't descend on the land, the coffee refuses to bring it's usual kick. Sometimes optimism seems like a fool's errand. Sometimes there's a sneaking suspicion things won't all work out for the best. Sometimes it seems everything is seriously off track, that there's some dark secret that can't be acknowledged, and much time and energy is expended making sure it remains buried in a cold, dark place.

Friday, November 18, 2005

"Trickster Makes the World" - Lewis Hyde

"Trickster makes the world, gives it sunlight, fish and berries, but he makes it 'as it is,' a world of constant need, work, limitation and death."

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The Ballad of J & Y

It's just a black and white picture (a poster) that someone gave to me. A man and a woman, sitting in bed, each holding a flower in their hand, looking intently at the camera, not smiling exactly, but there's a hint of a smile, and a definite light, an intelligence that seems to reside in the eyes, that seems to connect to something inside the viewer. There's a lot of hair, long, and lank; the man and woman, they have long hair, down to their shoulders and beyond. The man has a full beard, he wears those wire glasses. It's a famous picture, of a famous, maybe infamous, couple, a couple that went out of their way to challenge the status quo, kind of weird, kind of arty, kind of avant garde, the kind of couple that was famous enough, and rich enough, and entertaining enough, that if they decided to spend a week in bed to promote peace, reporters would come, other famous people would come, this couple would get attention, and abuse, there would be controversey. This was a time when a war, (there's always a war) was raging in a far off land. It's an old photo, from another time and place. The photo captures one moment. Click! So this image is now affixed to my refrigerator. Everytime I go to get a refill of milk for my morning coffee, those eyes of intelligence stare back at me. They remind me of an idealism, a beauty, a fire, a desire, a way to live, that still resides deep inside me. Is it all a cliche? Some cliches are true. Even if that truth is only a moment, one moment of a camera flash, a flash, frozen in time. That flash, that image, that thought, that dream still lives...

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

A Box of Mud

I need to get this out of my system...it's kind of like the "snake-bite" scene in Woody Allen's "Banannas," "you must suck the blood out." In this case, I must suck out the the bad blood of a long, lost day, on the road to nowheresville. Yesterday my "whale chase," was inconclusive, strange, murky, disheartening. I started in the morning with a "box of sunlight," I came back in the afternoon, with a "box of mud." This thought came to me: all hopes are meant to be crushed, all desires to be unmet, all love to be unrequited.

I went to a Board meeting and watched the messy process of democracy in action. It was a theater of the absurd, it was meandering, it was boring, it featured debate and argument, and finally, as climax, one board member actually stomped off in anger while the gavel hammered down closing the meeting. I was left completely in the dark. Did my whale pass by? I couldn't tell.

I took the long train ride home, (this is Dumps talking) in the wind, the cold, the damp depressing murk of a bleak November day. I got home and ended the work day, on the phone, in a testy back and forth with a "figure of authority," who is clueless, pointless, just basically "less!" I had to bite my lip and take a heap of hostility and subtle abuse as pre-dinner snack.

So, anyway, it's a new day...what box today?

Monday, November 14, 2005

The Passengers

We are all "passengers," on a journey to an uncertain future, retreating from a murky past. There's always this sensation that "we are more than our bodies," as if our bodies are simply the vehicles we use to make the trip. We can "time trip," revisit old places on the way, we can circle back to certain mile markers, we can barrel ahead in frenzied speed, or coast, or putter, trying to conserve our fuel, to extend our time on the road. We probably do all of the above at sometime or other. This weekend, the Lovely Carla and I revisted a seminal film that we originally saw together (not in 1975, probably a few years later 1978? 1979? on re-release) Michaelagelo Antonioni's (admit it the name suggests "genius!"), "The Passenger." I don't really want to review the film, except to say that orginally viewing it was one of those events that had a profound effect on both of us, brought us closer together, made us realize the beauty and mystery of the journey that we were embarked upon, and affirmed that we were lucky to be making the trip with a fellow, like-minded, traveller. It opened the door to all the essential questions, about existence, identity, uncertainty. Seeing it again, brought all this back, front and center, as if there were no "time and distance." We both walked from the theater with a sense of wonder and joy. The ultimate experience of art, for me, is a "kicking open the door," or a "breaking open the head," that destroys preconceptions, that melts certain assumptions. It is amazing a film can do such a thing. It's also quite exhilarating.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

"Open the Door, Richard" - B. Dylan

Lately I've been trying to live the discipline of anti-discipline. To find a more spontaneous approach to experiencing the moments of my existence. It's all very paradoxical, which suggests to me, I'm onto some profundity, which of course, I must immediately banish from my thought processes, because "profundity" seems like some sort of death knell. There's this tension between remembering and forgetting, a kind of self-canceling mode that hopefully opens up a vista: the now. I have noticed time seems much more malleable. Some moments speed up, some slow down. I've been playing guitar every day, and I have been getting lost in notes, chord structures. There's noise, then silence. I've been "breaking things down," in order to "understand" how a song works, then I try to let that knowledge go, and sort of improvise on the fret-board. This "work" seems like play. Another paradox, that seems to kick open a door.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

A Matter of Empathy

Empathy is the ability or the capacity to identify with or "understand" the position, the "feelings" of another. I think it's something we all have to some degree (except for maybe the real social cretins - serial killers, etc). I realize that from a very young age, that empathy has been a guiding principle of mine ("but for the grace of god, go I"). It may have been passed down to me from my father, my mother, it may have been programmed in my genes, who knows? I first really felt it in Catholic grade school. There was a kid, with glasses, braces, frequent nose-bleeds, who just stood out in the crowd, (kind of like Jerzy Kosinski's "Painted Bird). Some kids went out of their way to torment him, I guess to make themselves feel superior, to show that they were stronger, to show they weren't like him. Lack of empathy is great if you want to divide into "us" and "them" camps. This always sickened me. I went out of my way to be nice to this kid, partly because I identified with him. I was one of those quiet kids, who really just wanted to be invisible, I often wasn't noticed, which is how I liked it. I wasn't really friends with "Nosebleed," but I'd help him up when he fell down, or kind of shielded him when it looked like he was stepping into trouble. Later I had my own problem with bullies, there was one particular kid who loved to sit on me and make me eat dirt. Finally, improbably, one afternoon I landed a lucky punch square on the bully's nose and he never bothered me again, but I never forgot being on the dirt end of the equation. This is a long way to my thought that I still see the world through this prism. If there's someone down and out, some underdog, some prisoner being tortured in some secret room or some street person feeling the the sharp end of a stick, like Steinbeck's Tom Joad, "I am there." I guess I'm basically a "bleeding heart." I wear this label with honor. At the same time, I believe I must have a steely resolve to work towards a better world. A world where empathy is a sign of strength, not of weakness.

Friday, November 11, 2005

The Noise Room

Last night, the Telepaths, (minus one) got together to create an unholy, r&r noise. It was pure pleasure. Turns out our bass player is a guitarist extraordinaire, our new drummer has "hands of stone," our vocalist found his "sweet spot," and my new guitar is like a bolt of lightening in my hands. At least that's how it all seemed to me from my vantage point. There's something about simple chords, a solid beat, tossed off lyrics, sing-a-long choruses. My father, in his later years, spent much his time at the old fishing hole, he used to say there was a Chinese proverb about how fishing didn't count against your time on earth. That's how I feel about playing guitar. It's out of time, a pure pleasure. By the way, looking for old Chinese proverbs, I found this: Tiger father begets Tiger son.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

"So much trouble in the world..." - B. Marley

Is this so obvious, that it's stupid to even bring up? Well, that never stopped me before...If the "good guys," in order to do battle with the "bad guys," use torture, murder, bombs, bullets, phosphourus chemicals; if they sometimes imprison innocent bystanders, kill women, children and old men; if they lie about doing these things, and lie about the reasons for doing them (for instance, by using big, abstract, good-sounding words to cover their actions), if they live in a "democracy," but make most of their decisions in secret, if they show contempt for the people they represent by saying one thing and actually doing another, if they hold themselves up as good and true and moral examples, and accuse anyone not toeing the line, of giving comfort to the "bad guys," is it any wonder, "good," and "bad," start to seem like relative terms? Is it surprising that someone might start thinking that it's not that some people are inherently good or bad, but instead that they are capable of both, and it's their actions which are to be "judged," and if the actions of the good and bad guys are identical, doesn't morality look like another "word game?" Is it fair to say that words and beliefs are just a smokescreen, that it's only what you do in the world that defines you?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

A Musical!

Last night was a scene of domestic bliss at the old homestead. The Lovely Carla got home, parked herself in front of the TV with her dinner and watched her show, "The Gilmore Girls." Hey everyone needs "a show!" I sat in the kitchen writing my musical. Think Billy Joel, Neil Sedaka, Barry Manilow, Neil Diamond, Lieber and Stoller, George Gershwin, Pete Townsend - you get my drift? Suddenly, I'm consumed with the idea that I can write a ROCK OPERA!

"I am, he said..."
"I write the songs..."
"Summertime..."
"Tommy can you hear me..."
"Mandy..."

The mind reels.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

A Special Bond

The Lovely Carla was off yesterday, I was working from home, so we had plenty of time for sly and friendly banter as we went through our appointed rounds. I especially liked this little exchange, I think it nicely sums up the dichotomy of our special bond...

Sunny Jimmy: Every morning, I wake up and ask myself, 'What can I do to make my honey happy.'
The Lovely Carla: Every night, before I go to sleep, I say to myself, 'I'm living with the Devil.'

Monday, November 07, 2005

"Two Trains Running"

The Lovely Carla attended a Director's workshop this weekend. I originally thought it was a good idea for her to go, thinking there might be some new information, new inspiration, and if it turned out to be a total waste of time, she could split. Turns out, she got a lot out of it, meeting with other directors, hearing how others try to work within an ensemble, how they deal with organizational issues and work with actors (the Michael Chekhov technique). Every night, she came back and kind of shared the highlights with me. I kind of got a vicarious kick, from seeing the new fire in her eyes, hearing how she incorporated the new information, seeing a glimmer of how it will help us in our new performance adventures.

I spent most of the weekend, noodling on my new guitar (it's a custom-made John Suhr classic), working on a song which I'm thinking will be the "grand theme" of what I'm sort of hoping will be our new musical/performace piece. I've got much material to draw from, I realize now, that while I was searching for the next thing, it was materializing before me. This is how we work together, the Lovely Carla and I. We zing along on two totally unique tracks, and then kind of watch how they collide and then organically track together. It's an amazing process, and it humbles me every damn time it happens.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

After the Crash

I seem to have fallen into a pattern of behaviour. Once a week, I kind of hit an energy deficit, and crash. Yesterday was my crash day. The weather cooperated, it was kind of cold and dark, so I seemed in tune with the elements. I went for a run on the lakefront, came back, and kind of staggered through the motions of a day. I ended up on the couch, watched Notre Dame play football, listented to "Cream Live a Albert Hall." I took a long, hot soak in the tub, (think Edward G. Robinson in "Little Ceasar" minus the cigar) and read, "Hip: The History." I crashed out early, about 9:00 p.m. and slept like a little baby. I'm a new man this morning. Refreshed, re-charged, etc. Where does the energy come from, where does it go? I just don't know..."I'm your vehicle baby, I'll take you anywhere you want to go..."

Saturday, November 05, 2005

"Sometimes a Great Notion" - K. Kesey (with thanks to Leadbelly)

Well, there are limits, we know because they tell us so. There's death and gravity, and if a frog could sprout wings, maybe his ass wouldn't bounce on the ground so much; but maybe the limits aren't as clearly defined as we think. Maybe it pays to test those limits once in a while. Maybe we really have nothing to lose. Maybe it's possible to "ask for the impossible." And if we did, maybe our idea of what's possible and what is not, would melt in the light of a grand wonder.

Friday, November 04, 2005

"The Road of Excess, leads to the Palace of Wisdom" - Wm. Blake

I guess I'm drawn to a certain alienation (from other people, the world at large). It's something I've cultivated since I was young. Not sure where this originally came from, maybe it was some kind of genetic heritage, it just seems to be a natural tendency for me. I like to think that it is an avenue to some kind of "enlightenment," but this is not a given. There's always this "stanger in a strange land" feeling to everything I do. Maybe this is not so unique, maybe it's a result of our materially driven, consumer society. The fraternity I'm drawn to, is the fraternity of "lone wolves," they don't like to hang together, they don't seek comfort in the pack. There's a profound lonliness that comes in the bargain. Maybe this is not a bad thing, maybe a certain strength comes with it too. It doesn't matter if I'm in the middle of a crowd, with friends, with family, it's always there. I've used this "space" to create things, other worlds, other realities, it's like I'm always seeking a lonely palace of knowledge, a hard knowledge that can only be experienced alone.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Angel Tendencies

One of the rules to live by (besides "make no rules"), found in Keith Johnstone's "Impro," when in doubt: BREAK A ROUTINE. Let's say you're down and out, adrift, out to sea, etc. Let's say you've misplaced your mojo. What's a Lone Pilgrim to do? Jump into a parallel universe, try on a new suit of clothes, buy something (it's the driver for this mad, mad, mad, consumer culture - in my case, I finally found the mythical, "ultimate guitar," and I took the plunge!), crack a new book (I suggest the superb "The History of Hip" by John Leland - it's a "hipology," that explains it all!), listen to new tunes, (In my case I rediscovered an old disc of Bluesbreakers cuts with the sublime blues guitar of Peter Green), go to new place, (I wandered the down and out streets of LA sprawl), eat exotic foods, (Indian, French and Asian), fly in the air at 32,000 feet, meditate until the golden light envelops your entire being, repeat until well done, although it's important to remember that even all this can become routine, which you then must assiduously break!

So, in my head, (deep into the tome on HIP), I was hanging with the hipsters, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Mark Twain, Herman Melville, Dashiel Hammet, and of course, Jack Kerouac. I discover this little tidbit: Kerouac was kicked out of the Navy because of his dedication to "complete and absolute freedom," and what the Psychiatrists called "Angel Tendencies." Hmmm, every hipster (as per the African word "hepi" - enlightened) has a little bit of the Angel (Angel of Joy, Angel of Doom), in them. According to Walt Whitman we must be "poets of goodness, and poets of wickedness too." Sounds like an ambitious regimen, but it's where the mojo is to be found.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The Golden State

Is it possible I fell into a wormhole and I got a glimpse of myself living in a parallel universe? Let's just say in this other world, I used to own a Surf shop in Laguna, I now lay low in the shadow of Santa Anita, living at the Azuza Motorcourt, I cook my meals on a hot plate, I still eat TV dinners, I watch reruns of Dobie Gillis, and Dick Van Dyke, I hang out at Shady Brady's, I own a vintage Chevy low-rider, my car stereo blasts Cream's "Wheels on Fire," and Hendrix's "Electric Lady Land," and Bob Dylan's "Blonde on Blonde," I live off my hard-fought winnings at the track, (the first-time lasix rule still holds, and nobody else notices!), I regularly venture over to the ocean, take out my trusty old surf board, (oh if only it could talk!), and try to catch a wave that will get the heart pumping in double-time. I hang out with burnt-out rock stars with names like "Lefty," and "Jo-Jo," and ex-Playboy Bunnies named "Darlene." I live a life on the margins, I embrace alienation, my life is full and every night I watch the sunset in the West and I think, "ain't it great to be an American?" I aspire to be the "coolest cat," on my block...I am, but no one else knows it.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

"This blink seems just like that other blink."

If you've been around long enough, things start to remind you of other things. This trip, resembles that other trip. This place, evokes memories of another place. This meal, reminds you of a meal you had long ago, in a land far away. Many things start to have a "deja vu" aspect to them. You start thinking: "I've been here before, I've done this before, I've thought about how I've done this before, before." Maybe that's what it means to "get old." Finally, everything seems to be a reflection of an experience you had another time, another place, and so, there's no room left for the new. I think you have to battle this tendency. It's all a damn illusion anyway. Our bodies provide us with some continuity (look in the mirror, if you dare!), but really every morning, every day, every moment is in some way NEW. The past is gone, the future awaits, and the now is IT! You have to remind yourself, "This moment will not repeat...it is unique, and it goes so damn quickly, even as I recognize it. Shit, it just passed me by."

Monday, October 31, 2005

It Used to Be Called a Highway

What's that saying? "The best laid plans of mice and men." Well in this case, the mice won. My plan to arrive for the 7th race at Santa Anita went awry. Back in Chicago our plane had a leaky gasket, so we had to deplane and replane, and so my excellent adventure became a long slog of a travel day. As Vonnegut would say, "And so it goes."

I landed into an alternate reality, (LAX), where I was motoring in a red Toyota, zipping along the Ventura FREEWAY, (I was doing 70 mph, and cars were passing me by like I was coasting), listening to John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers, passing palm trees, the Sierra Madre mountains, Pasadena, Azuza and then finally arriving in sleepy little Arcadia (too late to visit the track!). I checked the schedule and realized that I've missed my chance to try my luck with the horses (No mojo to be found there)this trip. It's kind of like going to Rome and finding out the Pope isn't home.

So, it's business today and tomorrow. I'm in the business of business. Must be busy, and business-like, and see if my misplaced mojo is somewhere in this strange place, so foreign, so familiar.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Don't Forget First Time Lasix!

I'm off to the City of Angels later this morning. I wonder if that's where I'll find my (still missing) mojo? My ultimate destination is Arcadia (not the mythological Greek Island, not the Stoppard play, not the band formed by Simon Le Bon), a sleepy little town in California, where dreams are born and dashed in two minute increments. I'm of course referring to the major attraction in Arcadia, the Santa Anita Racetrack, one of my favorites places on the planet. Is it one of the Seven Wonders? By some odd Cosmic Convergence, I'm to attend a business conference in Arcadia on Monday and Tuesday. So, I'm taking an early plane today, timed so that I'm trackside for the seventh race and beyond. I envision that I'm already ahead of the game, limiting my exposure to 3 or 4 races, not enough to get into really serious pocket-emptying trouble.

I'm leaving in the wake of a really nice autumn day in Chicago yesterday. The Lovely Carla and I went for a long, rambling walk, and we talked of everything under the sun. We have both entered a "phase of unknowing," wondering (in both a large and small sense) "what's next?" We had dinner with a friend, I'll dub him the Great Dr. Woo, who told us that one's path is basically "what you believe." The Lovely Carla and I heard this and nodded our heads as if to say, "Yes, that's what we needed to hear." Now if only I could pinpoint what I really, truly, deeply believe..beyond the cosmic primacy of weight, distance, class...

Saturday, October 29, 2005

The Cheese

I enjoy these Saturday mornings, listening to music, drinking coffee, surveying the news of the world. No appointments, no demands, no obligations. Big and little things have happened. The big: the first tentative blast in the wall of a corrupt, deceitful White House. The little: I've misplaced my MOJO! We watched a silly DVD last night, "Flirting with Disaster," which seems like a prescription, or a prediction, or a predicament, and it was just the ticket. Sometimes laughter just sneaks up on you, and watching Mary Tyler Moore chasing George Segal around with a slab of stinky cheese, struck a chord somewhere inside. The laughter came in gales. It was a complete mess of a movie, and it seemed to reflect some kind of truth. Sometimes the truth is hard, cold, painful; sometimes the truth is gloriously and inexplicably, funny! How exactly does that work?

Friday, October 28, 2005

"The Waiting is the Hardest Part" - T. Petty

The Lovely Carla reports to me that the Witches Almanac advises this morning: "trust your instincts." OK, so you gotta trust something, right? I need to have a "come to Jesus" with my instincts! Except this morning I feel at sea, floundering about, unable to latch onto anything. Ala Austin Powers, I believe I may have "LOST MY MOJO!"

Thursday, October 27, 2005

"Fearless Speech" - M. Foucault

Neil Young has a great song, to be found on "Tonight's the Night," called "Speaking Out." The latest Washington drama (TraitorGate?) shows how one man, standing up, telling the truth as he (Joseph Wilson) knows it, can bring down an empire. Now, I'm not predicting, a complete victory for truth, justice and the American Way, but, it's clear that suddenly alot of people, including a hard-working prosecutor, a group of dedicated citizens (the grand jury) and a newly energized contingent of journalists (and bloggers) are hot on the trail of a great and twisted story of lies and skull-duggery in high places. Cue a little "Fanfare for the Common Man!"

What's especially entertaining, is to see, an honest prosecutor, armed with a trusty briefcase, methodically sifting through "the evidence," taking testimony, checking it twice, pitted against a group of "Public Servants," who got just a little too full of themselves, acting more like a corrupt oligarchy straight out of Shakespeare (think MacBeth, Richard the Third). Little Bush doesn't exactly fit the role of the Mighty taking a fall, (instead he's a very little man, thinking he's a very big man), so I guess this is more of a comedy with tragic overtones, as opposed to a tragedy with comedic overtones.

There's a great movie, called, "The Insider," about the tobacco industry, and one man, who stood up and told the truth. He ends up losing his job, his wife, his children, house, etc. How many of us would be willing to risk it all to do the right thing? How many of us go along with lies, large and small, just to "get along?" Let's honor those amongst us willing to speak up, when speaking up is not the safe or smart thing to do.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

"Don't Go in the Basement!"

It was William Burroughs (I might be paraphrasing) who once said, "a paranoid, schizoprenic, is just a guy who's figured out what's what." The closer you look at something, the more you see. Sometimes there are connections, or you make connections, that seem to reveal deeper truths, and/or deeper mysteries. It's kind of like those Robert Anton Wilson books, describing the secret history of the Illuminati, where new patterns and coincidences reveal a vast conspiracy that seemingly explains the unexplainable. Or maybe just points to a greater mystery, which rings true, because it's our experience on so many levels (physical, spiritual, etc.).

This PlameGate Leak case is a good example. If you delve deep, and brother, I am so deep into this one, my eyeballs are spinning like tops, you find a connection from Iran/Contra, to Italian Fascists, to Iraqi Fraudsters, to Israeli Intelligence, to powerful NeoCons (American Fascists?!), to skullduggery and backstabbing, to lies in high places, to an illegal war, to a high-jacked democracy. You begin to realize (or fantasize?) that there's another level of activity, below the surface, under the radar, of secret plans and agendas. You begin to believe that our day to day view of events are just SHOWBIZ! Things (Operatives?!) that aren't supposed to see the light of day are working for other purposes and other outcomes, we're just the stupid pawns being manipulated in a much bigger game...hmmm, one starts thinking there are things in the dark that can come out and bite you in the ass!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The VEEP is a CREEP!

It's pitch dark, raining cats and dogs this morning, but I'm sitting here, shining brightly. I know it's not good to take pleasure in someone else's troubles, but I can't help being tickled pink by the news that Big Dick Cheney is now implicated (see the NYT this morn) in the CIA leak case. I've been waiting for this big, floppy clown shoe to drop for quite some time! The Intrepid Fitz has been on the trail of the the Great White Dick all along.

It's amazing, the public face, the private lies. All I can say is, I hope Cheney, Rove, and Libby (Hardrock, Coco and Joe?) GET WHAT THEY DESERVE!" As Sy Hersh has pointed out, a small group (a cabal?!) of neo-conservatives conducted a disinformation campaign to get the U.S. into a war. A war that never made sense, that has become a huge foreign policy disaster. Men, women and children have died, for no good reason. Little Bush has been insulated from most of this secret insider stuff, his defense? "I'm an IDIOT, I didn't know anything?"

There is hope, in that our big, lumbering system, sometimes does a little self-cleansing. The criminal justice system (think Watergate, Iran Contra, yes, Sexual RelationsGate) is the last bulwark against complete dishonesty and corruption. I guess the tension is between a messy, transparent, democracy, and an efficient, secret, Fascism. Give me the inefficient, transparent democratic messiness! Can we live in the world with an ethic of public and private honesty?

Monday, October 24, 2005

Through a Glass Darkly

I don't get to quote Vladimir Nabokov that often, and I'm not sure if he came up with the line himself, or heard it somewhere else, but this morning, I'm in a ruminative frame of mind, where if I recall it correctly, (I doubt it), he said something like this: "our lives are but a brief moment of light, bookended by great immensities of darkness." Now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure he didn't say it exactly like that, I'm just "recreating," but, that was the basic formulation.

This time of year seems to be a validation of the point. The interval of light between darknesses is brief. A day or so ago, I saw the sun dancing in the clouds and it looked very "moon-like" - small, pale-white (A whiter shade of pale?). Darkness decends early, and lifts late. So above, as below... A day is a mirror to a life, a life is a mirror to a world, a world is a mirror to a universe, a universe is a mirror...to what?

Sunday, October 23, 2005

"Taking Care of Business" (TCB) - ELVIS!

Slept in late, brewed up a great cuppa joe, sitting at my keyboard, surfing all the political blogs (I'm thinking big things are coming this week, maybe we see the unmasking of the Cheney Cabal - wouldn't that be sweet?), kind of reveling in the afterglow of our muscial performance last night, listening to Otis Redding on the box ("Try a Little Tenderness"), taking it slow and easy.

Yes, we unveiled some new stuff last night at the Gallery. The Lovely Carla did a monologue that I wrote, (also a piece from Sam Shepard - now that's good company!) while I played a sort of spacey guitar accompaniment. We had a small audience, but it all went off well. Kind of rough and off the cuff. It's kind of my mode of operation lately. Then, for the finale (we went from the sublime to ELVIS), our very own Johnny Pilgrim, dressed as the Prime-Time Las Vegas Elvis, came out and sang three songs. It was a rip-roaring set, highlighted by that Lieber/Stoller masterpiece, "King Creole."

From Shepard to Presley, in one fell swoop. Now in my book, that's supreme entertainment ("It's ART, it doesn't have to be GOOD!") - S. Jimmy.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

A Chocolate Chip on my shoulder

I'm kind of in "suspended animation," this morning. Does that make me "cartoon-like?" Caught between hopeful/optimistic and hopeless/pessimistic. This applies to any subject you might want to come up with this morning: politics, the world, the environment, enlightenment, arts, entertainment, personal survival, personal hygeine, personal personality traits, etc. I'm not really prepared to commit to one viewpoint or another, either, I'm just kind of holding both in my head simultaneously. Didn't F. Scott Fiztgerald say something about "intelligence is the ability to hold two contrary thoughts in your head at the same time," or something like that? Now I'm not claiming any kind of superior intelligence or anything, in fact, I'm not claiming anything this morning. It's cloudy outside, sunny inside, want to make something of it?

Friday, October 21, 2005

The Shadow Knows!

I was thinking of my father yesterday...

When he was a child he listened to the radio, one of his favorite shows was "The Shadow." The opening of each broadcast started with a question and an answer: "WHO KNOWS WHAT EVIL LURKS IN THE HEARTS OF MEN? THE SHADOW KNOWS!" I believe it was Orson Welles, who intoned those thrilling words in deep resonant tones. My father loved to do his "Orson Welles," by speaking these prophetic words himself.

Now, according to C.G. Jung, all of us have the "shadow," as part of our psychological makeup...so really, we all know what evil lurks in the hearts of men (and women) because that "evil" resides in us too. Maybe the word "evil," is a little harsh, maybe not, look at the world, what do you think? But at least we know there's light and dark (see Obi Wan Kenobi!). So when something really goes bad, when people seriously take the wrong path (think White House Cabal!), there's always a little twinge of recognition, isn't there?

We all need to be honest with ourselves, and try to keep each other honest too. We must expose the darkness to the light, and so, transform it! HA, HA, HA!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

"I've got nothing Ma, to live up to..." - B. Dylan

How about this for a crooked path to happiness? "The key to happiness is to face the fact that the world is horrible, horrible, horrible." - Bertrand Russell. I laughed out loud when I read this quote. Partly from surprise, and partly from the recognition that it seems so right. It's kind of like "Apocalypse Now, Redux" in reverse. Instead of a big, bloated, bald, Kurtz (think Brando in a kimono) whispering "the horror, the horror" at the end of the movie, just before he up and dies like a stuck pig, what if, you started the journey, at the mouth of the river, on your way to the "heart of darkness" (or go way back to the moment you popped out of the womb) with "the horror, the horror" on your lips? "I've been down so long it looks like up to me!" - Richard Farina. If you start with the horror, you are assured to find something to love. There will be some light in the dark. You will find the beauty beyond the brutes. Even if it gets bad, and it will get bad, it can't get that bad, can it? I'm thinking Russell had it knocked...it's the low/no expectations frame of mind. Once you accept the hard fact, you can spend the rest of your life melting it, moulding it, transcending it!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Sunny Jimmy Version 7.0

In 1955, Eisenhower was President and West Germany was admitted into NATO. On October 19, 1955, "Love is a Many Splendored Thing" by the Four Aces was the number one song in the U.S. ("The Man from Laramie" by Jimmy Young was number one in the U.K.) and I was born in a hopsital in Chicago. I was born premature (I have been since), not quite ready for prime-time, and if I remember correctly, I came out feet first (I couldn't even do the birth thing right!) My mother never complained about this, she always just wanted me to be happy, I attribute my sunny smile to her. My father told me how he looked at me, a tiny new being, in an incubator, unable to be out in the world on my own. It's now 50 years later...a long strange trip, and strangely, a blink of an eye. They say that every seven years all the cells in your body "regenerate," so by my calculation I'm Sunny Jimmy Version 7.0. I feel more of myself than I've ever been, if you know what I mean.

Anyway, this morning, the Lovely Carla (the lucky ones have someone they can share the journey with) has left a little card at my keyboard, I open it up, and there's an ultrasound picture of her heart, and the following note...I think it gives you a flavor of some of my life (our life together)...

"James, I knew you were the one when...

you wanted to show me your rock collection
you played, "the kids are all right" for me
you let me read all your Raymond Carver novels
you explained what a trifecta was to me
you took me to see "The Deer Hunter," "Last Tango in Paris," "The Passenger," "Mean Streets," "One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest", "Midnight Cowboy," and "Easy Rider," (over and over and over), Allen Watts "The Art of Meditation," and so on
we enrolled in Fencing Class, Acting Class and Psychic School together
you drove the paddle boat in Wisconsin
you took me to the Pat Metheny concert for my school paper
we walked the streets of Paris, Madrid, New York, San Francisco, Las Vegas, New Orleans, Dublin, Edinburgh, Boston, Miami Beach, and so on together
we slept in Big Sur with the fire blazing and the next morning we walked on the beach
we tried Indian, Thai, Middle Eastern, Italian, German, Japanese food together
we sat on a park bench in the square in Merida and watched the people and the birds together
we meditated on several mountains and under many trees together
you hiked around the castle in Majorca with me
you say "Carla"
you put the goat in Carolyn and Donald's tent
you went with me to put my dad's ashes into the ocean
you listen to me talk about my latest germ paranoia
we went to get Miles and Satchmo (the birds)
we laid in the shade of the monument at Chitzanizta and looked up at the big blue sky
we watched the moon rise and pretended the moon beam was our shining carpet to the next realm
I've been with you for over half of your life now, I hope it's been something for you too...
Your Soulmate
Carla"

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

"Are we there yet?"

It's amazing how much of our lives are spent getting to and from places. It's amazing how much time is spent waiting for something to happen. It's amazing how gnarly the trip can seem. The Lovely Carla this morning: "Jimmy, you're a tree...your leaves are turning!"

Monday, October 17, 2005

Stray Lines

Here are some stray lines threading around in my head this morning:

1. What happens happens.
2. Go with what amuses you.
3. Forgive the Universe.
4. Disobey.
5. There's no discipline like anti-discipline.
6. Wake Up!
7. Your aura (do you believe in an aura?) is your reality, your body is your experience.
8. Maybe you're already doing what you should be doing.
9. Maybe not.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Dreaming of Potter's Field

I've been avidly following the Plame/Traitor Gate scandal, which threatens to expose the intentional lies, the concerted dis-information campaign run out of the White House in the runup to the Iraq War. Can it be that Dick Cheney (think Lionel Barrymore as "Potter," in "It's a Wonderful Life") and some of his lackeys could go down in flames? I'm a believer. In my heart of hearts I think that the "truth" will out, the evil-doers amongst us (these are the more dangerous threat to our teetering Democracy) will face the music. I'm hoping to see indictments maybe as soon as this week. Rove and Libby are toast...the big question, is whether the intrepid Fitz has the goods on Cheney. Why not? I remember seeing Richard Nixon resign in disgrace less than two years after winning an election in a landslide. It's the classic story, arrogance and hubris overtakes the powerful (they begin to believe they are above all those Poor Schlubs in the heartland, they are above the law), and a sharp prosecutor, the Last Honest Man (What drives him? Doesn't he have a price too?) intent on pursuing the truth, intent on exposing the lies, intent on revealing the corruption, can not be deterred. It's a nice dream...let's see if the reality catches up.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

The Worm is Turning

Man, I think I've fallen into a "worm-hole." I finished reading some stray philosophical ramblings of Philip K. Dick, (Look out, I'm moving onto a biography about Aleister Crowley), and I'm in the speculative frame of mind, where everything is suspect. Here's Dick on reality: "reality is what's left over, after you stop believing in it." And what's left over when you stop believing in that? If you can't trust your eyes, your ears, your nose, your hands, your head, what's left?

Anyway, this actually kind of kicks the door open to new possiblities, and I'm all for new possibilities. What's that old saying? "There's nothing new under the sun." I don't believe it. I think we're locked in some grand cycle, we all play our little part, each part is actually essential. It's just that being human means we can't get our head around the thing. It's the context of no context conumdrum.

So, I'm skating along, wondering what the new day will bring, trying to make sense out of the incomprehensible, which is not to say it's all incomprehensible, we can comprehend some of it, we just don't know whether what we comprehend has any substance...maybe it's all just..."fairy dust," which isn't to imply that we're all fairies, but wouldn't that be a kick, something to rile up those wacked out "born againers?"

Friday, October 14, 2005

"This Crumbling Pageant" - I. Kant

I fell into an emotional "cul de sac" yesterday afternoon. I have one of those jobs that sometimes doesn't feel like a job, or instead, feels like a job with no purpose, no trajectory. I end up talking to people who don't really want to talk to me. We end up talking about what we don't want to talk about: what didn't happen, or what's not going to happen. We end up in a kabuki dance around the truth: in our hearts we know what we are talking about is meaningless, pointless, but we talk as if there is a point, a purpose, and we really care. This describes much of our human experience. I guess it's important to find a zen aspect in the pursuit of futility. Instead of pursuing futility, maybe we should just let it come to us. If we practice complete futility, maybe there, within the complete lack of meaning, we find the little nugget of a truth that we can stake our lives upon. Then again, maybe not.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

"All the leaves are brown..." - J. Phillips

The story goes that John Phillips woke up in the middle of the night with a tune and a fragment of lyrics for a song. He woke up Michelle Phillips and had her write them down for him on notebook at their bedside. The song was later recorded ("California Dreaming") and became a number one hit for the Mamas and the Papas. Michelle shared the royalties (She wrote it down!). You can still hear that song on radio stations across the land today.

Last night, I was visited by the Sci-Fi writer, Philip K. Dick. We were in conversation. He turned to me and imparted a nugget of wisdom. The words were so startling, so profound, I woke up with a start. I repeated the sentence silently to myself, and then went back to sleep.

This morning, my mind is blank. I can't for the life of me remember Philip Dick's words. One man's "solid gold," is another's "blank slate." And so the story goes.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Carpe Diem - Of Course!

Joan Didion has written a book called, "The Year of Magical Thinking." I haven't read the book, just an excerpt, and articles and reviews, but since it's about death and grief, it has great resonance for me in light of recent events in my life. What I find interesting is how, "magical thinking," and a "super-rationalist" or "realistic" views of the universe leads to much of the same philosophy regarding how to live life now. Whether we believe in other realities, other worlds beyond this one OR NOT, this from Didion, seems to be simple, essential wisdom.

"You are obligated to do things you think are futile...it's like living. Life ends in death, but you live it. I'm not telling you to make the world better, because I don't think that progress is necessarily part of the package, I'm just telling you to live in it. Not just to endure it, not just to suffer it, not just to pass through it, but to live in it. To look at it. To try to get the picture. To live recklessly. To take chances. To make your work and take pride in it. To seize the moment. And if you ask me why you should bother to do that, I could tell you that the grave's a fine and private place, but none I think do there embrace. No do they sing there, or write, or argue, or see the tidal bore on the Amazon, or touch their children. And that's what there is to do and get it while you can and good luck at it."

Whether we believe there is anything besides the moment or not, there is transcendance in seizing that moment NOW!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Birdie Love

Birds...I don't think it's an accident that the Lovely Carla and I live with two little birds. The ranch here, is basically the "bird house," with four birds (2 of the bird kind, 2 of the human kind) - delicate, flighty, high-strung, sensitive, quirky, skittish, odd. Lately none of us are really happy unless we're all together. The Lovely C. and I sitting at the kitchen table, the little birdies, running around on the kitchen floor. Last night it was "Fiesta Night", tofu tacos, yum, yum. Time seemed to come to a standstill, the radio was spewing the latest news of the world (one catastrophe after another), we talked about everything under the sun, the warmth and laughter (yes, there's still laughter) kind of enveloped us in a genial haze. The birds waddled around, fascinated by the patterns of the tile, pecking at the kitchen cabinets, running up our legs, sitting on our shoulders (Shades of Long John Silver!). They say "birds of a feather, flock together," and like most cliches, I guess it's true.

Monday, October 10, 2005

"A Vat of Jello"

Last night, after an intellectually-confusing, emotionally-bruising conversation, I craved a lobotomy, I dreamed of an ice pick strike, deep into the center of my cranium, taking out my medulla oblongata. Sometimes it just does not pay to engage, especially when you are locked in a debate about the unknowable. In the old days, with major quantities of cannabis at hand, Led Zep on the phonograph, a deep, existential conversation on the nature of "reality," would have resulted in distant smiles, far away eyes, and statements like: "Wow, man." "Dig it." "Blows my mind." Last night was more of an existential "death dance."

Put two amateur philosophers in a room, with vague notions, and fragmentary lines of reasoning, grappling with "reality," the universe, fundamental "truths," etc. can be a pointless, silly, and sort of ugly exercise. Kind of like wrestling in a vat of jello. It was something about (I'm fuzzy on the details now, as I was then.), is there one fundamental ground (truth, reality, universe), are there multiple "realities," do human beings "make their own reality," is what we call "reality," (you always end up putting quotes around the damn thing!), a dialogue between this fundamental ground and the human perceptor? Plus throw in the "WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE DIE?" subtheme, and you have a big fat stewpot of a conversation, over-spiced and undigestible.

As I laid me down to sleep, just as I closed my eyes, I see a picture of that guy on Monty Python, holding his head in his hands, declaring: "MY HEAD HURTS!"

Sunday, October 09, 2005

"How Low Will He Go?"

Rumblings from the Temple of Doom: our "Torturer in Chief" is threatening to veto the anti-torture measure that has passed in the Senate.

This would be the first bill our Dim Wit President would veto in his dark reign. Wouldn't it be great for our failing democracy if the corrupt hacks in Congress could actually muster up some courage and override such a veto?

If not, this Empire is seriously fucked.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Cotton Land

I'm listening to a mix of music this morning, and Bob Dylan's voice, ragged, croaking, definitely a voice that wears many years sings..."Wish I was back in the Land of Cotton..." Right, in the land of cotton, there would be no sharp edges, everything would be soft, puffy and white. We could play, (yes, even frolic) and the land would be our forgiving friend, embracing us with big cotton swabs...(remember J.D. Salinger's "Catcher in the Rye?"), in this case, there'd be a Catcher in the Cotton!

Wouldn't it be cool?

What if there was a heaven, and it was really easy to get in, populated with all the kind, cool, forgiving, beautiful people that you've met in your life (you've met some, right?) instead of the Super Elite Country Club, populated by the creepy bunch of sanctimonious assholes, as per my native creed (am i projecting here?).

What if we had a world where love, truth, beauty, forgiveness, were the highest ideals? What if we acknowledged the beauty and creativity in every child? What if we constructed a society that rewarded the kind? What if we valued people's contribution to the world by how much they gave, not how much they had? What if...anyway, you get the idea...I'm dreaming this morning of the land of Cotton, where it's easy, sweet, soft and cool...

Of course, I think it's better to just be dreaming of such a place, it wouldn't be a good place to actually live, not as a human being, too boring, (we need that constant play of dark and light), but it'd be a great place to visit once in a while, a counter-balance to the Land of the Knives!

By the way, I'd like to honor one (two) of my heroes: 50th Anniversary, Howl, In loving memory Allen Ginsberg 1926 - 1997

"Because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace things, but burn like fabulous roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue center light pop and everybody goes 'AWWW!'"

Jack Kerouac
On the Road
1957

UPDATE: I read this post to the Lovely Carla (I'm really flying this morning), and her pithy response, "Dude, you are so old!"

Friday, October 07, 2005

"Ride the snake, to the lake..." - The Doors

So, I did the whale hunt yesterday (see previous post), made the long trek, it took almost three CDs to get there: Dylan's "New Morning" ("Brighton Girls are like the moon"), "Cream Live" ("I'm a sleepy-time boy, I live a life of joy."), and "Jugula" - Roy Harper and Jimmy Page ("I'm stoned...out of my bone.")

Turns out, everything is still as clear as the murky mud. I saw the white whale, I swear, it leaped in front of me, it looked me in the eye, by god, I think it smiled and winked! I realized I am not to kill the beast, instead, I must ride it, (Just like Jim Morrison, riding that snake to the lake.), I am not the "whale slayer," no, I am the "whale rider!"

I must be gentle, I must be patient, I must be humble...and yes, I must be brave!

Here's the vision: I will let it all go, I will enter the water, I will swim out into the deep blue, I will wait (all alone) for the beast to come to me. I will offer myself up, I will latch on, gently, silently. I will try to guide this white immensity into calm waters, we will ride together, we will dance with the moonbeams, we will chase the sun...

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

"I still haven't found what I'm looking for..." - U2

That lyric was dancing in my head this morning. Never really thought the line was all that musical, but I've always endorsed the sentiment. My days lately have seemed like an extended, "search," for something, but in my case, not only have I not found what I'm looking for, but I don't even know what I'm looking for. It's an odd existence, but I call it "mine."

So, I'm on the hunt, looking out for anything that might "grab" me. I'm the hunter and inexplicably, the hunted. Kind of like in that early 1960's show, "The Fugitive." A man (a cultured man) on the run from the law, falsely accused, (he looked guilty of something!) seeking out an elusive truth, which dances in front of him, and continually evades him from episode to episode. Think also, "The Fugitive Kind," (T. Williams - Brando in a snakeskin jacket!)...that's the ticket.

So the fugitive, the seeker, is on the run...is he running to or from?!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

"You can be invisible too!"

I was so jazzed up last night, I could not sleep. It might have something to do with the heat and humidity. It's like a switch was turned on, and there was no turning off. Yesterday, I kind of floated through the world, without being able to latch onto anything. There were moments, all alone, waiting for a phone call, when I actually felt I had finally acheived invisibility. My job expects me "to make things happen," but sometimes I get the distinct impression that things "just happen;" I am less of an actor, and more of a witness.

"And what did you see my blue-eyed son? And what did you see, my darling young one..."

I saw a world, spinning on it's axis, it went around so fast, I couldn't even tell it was moving. I walked around on this little planet, wondering if there were other worlds spinning too. I wondered if there was anyone else out there, silent, invisible, wondering just like me.

Monday, October 03, 2005

El Jaguar

Yesterday was kind of a lost day for me. I'll chalk it up to the barometric pressure. My little "house of cards," kind of came tumbling down around my feet. I plugged into my walkman (Led Zeppelin III!) and watched the lightening show. Electricity is my life!

Up early this morning, working on a pot of "El Jaguar," special organic coffee from Nicaragua. Oh Sandinista!! I'm thinking about our corrupt money politics. There's this from Benito Mussolini: "fascism should more properly be called corporatism since it is the merger of state and corporate power."

We live in the belly of the corporate fascist beast! Can we possibly kill the fucker from the inside out? El Jaguar says, "YES!"

Sunday, October 02, 2005

"Let's Play God!"

Lately, I've had this idea, that I'm searching for "the next thing," that there's something waiting to descend upon me. In a recent conversation, I was offered the idea that, "maybe you've already found it, you're already onto the next thing."

This kind of took me by surprise, and you know what, I think it's true. I'm already in the midst of the "next thing," eventhough I don't exactly know what it is, kind of like that ancient concept (see Plato) that what we are "learning" is really just a process of "remembering," as if we are victims of some grand, metaphysical amnesia.

So when we "wake up," we are waking up to what we already know, or at one time knew (Is this encoded in our DNA? Are we rediscoving our own "God-like" properties?). Maybe our process of discovery, is a process of re-discovery. Maybe we need to find this out for ourselves? Maybe our education, our society, our civilization has been erected to make us dumb, stupid and blind?

It sure would explain a lot.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Space, Mass, Consciousness

Yesterday, late afternoon, I'm out on the the street corner, waiting for the light to change, one of those moments where you're just waiting for red to turn to green, and I'm thinking, it's a great day to be alive. Better than the alternative. Or at least that's the conventional wisdom.

We don't really know do we? And where were "we" all those many millions of years that preceded "us?" Where will we be many millions of years hence? I guess it's all idle speculation, the kind of thing that can get you from one moment to the next.

Then it's green -- time to go. So, I step into the road, the sun is setting, it's Friday, September 30, 2005. Tick, Tock.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Consciousness - Wetness, Transparency, an Earthquake

I've always been fascinated by the brain, mind, consciousness. It's amazing a mind can surprise itself. I came across an article entitled "Why Great Minds Can't Grasp Consciousness." Check it out:

"...the mind is made up of the physical connections between neurons. These connections evolve slowly and are influenced by our past experiences and therefore, everyone's brain is unique.

But whereas the mind is rooted in the physical connections between neurons...consciousness is an emergent property of the brain, similar to the 'wetness' of water or the 'transparency' of glass, they emerge from -- the actions of individual molecules.

A conscious experience occurs when a stimulus -- either external, like a sensation, or internal, like a thought or a memory -- triggers a chain reaction within the brain. Like in an earthquake, each conscious experience has an epicenter, and ripples from that epicenter travels across the brain, recruiting neurons as they go."

Thursday, September 29, 2005

"The Marriage of Heaven and Hell" - Wm. Blake

It's the common, simple things that can make all the difference. A good night's sleep (actually - I fell asleep on the couch early in the evening, didn't wake up until 10 hours later), a freshly brewed cup of coffee (actually - heavy duty rocket fuel), a clear head (actually it's dancing with dream images and ideas), can make a new day seem really new (actually I've been doing this now for almost half a century).

The sun goes up, the sun goes down...that's the way it's always been. Or at least that's how it seems from my occluded perspective. There's this feeling of continuity, but at the same time, there's this sneaking suspicion that it's really only an illusion.

There are these discrete moments, which we kind of put together to make a picture, but is that picture just a facimile, a rude copy of a much richer, or at least more complex, configuration? There's freedom in what we don't know, don't see...back to Blake's "doors of perception," clear them, and we can glimpse the world as it really is...infinite.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

One

Tired and groggy this morning. Sometimes the physicality (this bag of bones, this mortal coil) of our existence seems to take precedence. How to reconcile the needs of the spirit with the demands of the body? This is our baffling conundrum. We are stuck at the crossroads, trying to accomodate, or find a peaceful co-existence, between the two. Being human means contending with both horns of this dilemma/dichotomy. I think moments of transcendance, are the times where spirit and body are effortlessly one. This "oneness," is not beckoned, but instead, "descends."

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Conspiracy of Dunces

Whatever has conspired, has conspired to put me in a speculative frame of mind (see previous post). This is most welcome. I realize, when I'm speculating, imagining, building castles made of sand in my little noggin, I am in my element, the place where my creative impulses percolate. I feel like I'm in a new place, with a new face.

There's something cool about being able to "blow my own mind." I'm edging out into territory where I don't know what I don't know. To paraphrase/subvert Chico Marx: "How can I not find out, what I cannot find out, if I cannot find out, what I want to find out..."

...or something like that...

Monday, September 26, 2005

The Conversation

Disclaimer: This post was NOT written in a midnight haze of cannabis!

If you go with the idea of a "genetic code," the sequence of "letters" (the letters represent strings of chemical compounds) in our DNA which is manifested as "us," (our bodies, our beings), is it much of a leap to think of ourselves as an extended sentence, one that is written out in the course of our existence?

Now, we can read the sentence literally, but as life goes on, one begins to suspect that there is more than just a literal meaning to it all. The sentence may seem meaningless, but that's only if you read it literally. The sentence (our physical manifestation, our life) is actually a metaphor - "a figure of speech in which a term that ordinarily designates an object or idea is used to designate a dissimiliar object or idea." Meaning resides in the dissimiliar object or idea. We are searching FOR THAT...!?

Can a "figure of speech," comprehend the dissimiliar object or idea that it is, by analogy, pointing to? Is that what we mean when we talk about our "human condition?" If we are a figure of speech, is the universe the conversation, the converser? Does the conversation require a converser? Is the manifested universe just an inspired rant? Was that rant, fueled by some hallucingenic compound, that inspired the incredibly profound and overwhelming out-pouring of life we are and are immersed in? "In the beginning was the word..." Was that first word "WOW!"

UPDATE: The Lovely Carla just reminded me that "WOW," upside down is "MOM." Dig it.

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